BBA Challenge #7: Ciabatta


I was a little excited to finally start the next bread of the BBA Challenge – Ciabatta. Many bakers of the challenge were complaining the ciabatta didn’t turn out so perfectly because there weren’t enough holes, so I was wondering how mine would look like.

I decided to go for the poolish version (just because it was the first version in the book). I made the poolish the night before. The next day I mixed all the ingredients as stated in the book and then transferred the dough to a flour bed on the counter. I could not imagine that the stretch-and-fold method would work at all with this wet and sticky dough (I had used almost the maximum amount of water), so I read and re-read and re-read Nicole’s instructions again and again and tried to combine those pictures with the pictures shown in the book so I would have a good instruction in my mind’s eye. And yes, it did work – I was totally surprised at how nicely the dough stretched out. There was no problem with folding it, either. I let the dough rest for 30  minutes and it rose like crazy. I stretched and folded it again, and fermented it for 90 minutes. It definitely more than doubled in size during that time.

Then it got tricky. How would I divide the dough into 3 rectangles without degassing the dough? Virtually impossible. I tried my best, but was not really successful. I carefully put the 3 pieces on a pan with baking paper, folded them into oblongs and simulated a couche by putting rolled-up dish towels between the pieces. I proofed them for another 45 minutes and the dough DID noticeably swell again.

I then lifted the pieces from each end and tugged them out a little longer and put the pan with the loaves in the preheated oven. I even tried the whole hearth baking thing (hot water in the steam pan and spraying the side walls of the oven with water for a couple times, even though I was REALLY concerned I would demolish my oven). But when I took them out of the oven I was really proud of the result:

ciabatta loavesThe loaves definitely looked like ciabatta, they smelled like ciabatta and they DID taste like ciabatta. The flavor was GREAT and everybody was saying it was like a baker’s ciabatta – and since I live in Germany and we probably have the best bread in the world ;o) I take this as a compliment. The only issue I had with the result: the holes were definitely not big enough. This is probably due to my inability to divide the dough without degassing it. Will work on that because the Ciabatta is a bread I WILL make again!

7 responses to “BBA Challenge #7: Ciabatta

  1. Haha. We do have the best bread in the world, don’t we. I go to the bakery across the street for fresh baked rolls every day. And they make them from scratch, too! I could do without all the Roggenbrot, though.

    I think your Ciabatta came out awesome! What Type flour did you use? Also, I made this one twice, and the key to big holes lies in handling the dough carefully and cutting it quickly into threes with a good pastry scraper. Also, I had better luck (and flavor) with the biga recipe. Glad to see you are catching up!

    • I could NOT do without all the Roggenbrot – you should try a “Mischbrot” (it’s a sourdough bread made of rye and wheat), put some butter and sliced tomatoes on it. YUM!!!! That’s what I grew up with.

      As to the flour… I tried to get 812 wheat flour, but can get it online only, so I decided that everytime bread flour is called for I’ll take type 1050 flour. Even though I noticed with the cinnamon raisin bread that maybe a mixture of 550 and 1050 would have been better because it’s a sweet bread and 1050 is for more rustic kinda breads. But it was perfect for the ciabatta, I think.

  2. Looks great! And I think that EVERYONE has the same issues with it degassing while cutting it up and again when taking it off the couche. At first I was really afraid of ruining my oven with that steaming technique but after a while it started feeling a lot less dangerous and really helps develop the crust. I steam differently most of the time now but that way worked pretty well.
    Great job on your first time with ciabatta!

  3. The loaves are beautiful! I think next time I’ll give the Biga version a try because it seemed like more people were successful getting the large holes with that version of the bread. I agree that the flavor of this bread was really great!

  4. Awesome ciabatta! I, too, had the same results with my first round of poolish ciabatta. Did round 2 with the biga and made a stickier (more water) dough and got the holes I can only dream of.

    Keep up the great work and definitely try this one again. It’s worth it!

  5. Pingback: The Daring Cooks’ Challenges 06/10: Pâtés and Bread « Family & Food & Other Things

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